We here at the Sudden Money® Institute have been studying the personal side of money for over 15 years. Our original intention, following Susan Bradley's Sudden Money®: Managing a Financial Windfall (Wiley 2000), was to figure out why dealing with clients-in-transition was frequently so frustrating for financial professionals and where the disconnect was. The answer was simple: though traditional financial planning provides process for all situations, that process wasn’t designed to navigate the personal side of financial change, and it's the personal side that drives decision-making. This important limitation within financial planning led us to explore other fields of study (e.g., neuroscience, psychology, sociology and leadership) in order to create an integrative approach that would offer a more rich and comprehensive understanding of the how people subjectively experience change and how financial advisors can help co-create the highest outcomes with them.
We had to examine our assumptions about financial planning, learning, listening, the nature of personal change, and even the nature of the relationship between the planner and client. We had to ask:
- What are the components of the personal side?
- What tools and process currently exist to address them and what tools and process do we need to create?
- What's the best way to teach about the personal side? Which instructional method is most practical and effective?
- What are the qualities of an advisor who is skilled on the personal side?
- What tools and methods exist to assess those qualities and what tools and methods do we need to create?
- What does "client-centered" really mean? What does it look like?
- What is the skill set of this person who has a comprehensive understanding of the personal side and puts the client at the center?
- What tools currently exist to assess those skills and what tools do we need to create?
- What do we call this person?
After 15 years, we as a community of practice (Lave & Wenger 1991) have made significant progress moving through that intimidating list, which is by no means exhaustive. We have developed a year-plus long, rigorous program that addresses those issues and more. As lifelong learners, we will never say "our work is done." However, our post-CFP® designation, called Certified Financial Transitionist™, comes closer than anyone ever has (to our knowledge) to addressing the most pressing crisis of identity and expertise that our industry has ever experienced. If we're going to say our work is comprehensive, it needs to give the personal side at least the same attention as the technical.
For more about our 3-part Financial Transitionist™ program, click here.
For more about why Transition Expertise Matters, click here.